‘Beyond’ Interviews: Burkely Duffield and EPs on Holden Adjusting to Life After a 12-Year Coma and His Abilities


Freeform is exploring what life is like after waking from a 12-year coma with its new series Beyond, starring Burkely Duffield. BuddyTV got the scoop on what to expect from the star and executive producers Adam Nussdorf, David Eick and Tim Kring.

Watch the video interview with Burkely Duffield:

Here are a few highlights:

  • Holden is thrown into the world with the abilities. He can manipulate the physics of this world — matter, energy — like telekinesis. At first, he can’t control those abilities, but hopefully, he can learn too.
  • His family and friends have changed  — his younger brother is now in college — as has technology.
  • A big part of his life now is reconnecting with his family and friends, reevaluating those relationships and figuring out who he can trust.
  • Willa is a mysterious girl he meets right away who offers him some answers about those years he was in a coma.
  • There are elements — physically, emotionally and psychologically — of his coma that are different from a regular coma.
  • The first episode introduces the characters, sets up who Holden is and shows him waking up into this world. He wants to figure out what happened in the past, what led him to the present and where he’ll go in the future. You take that journey with him.
  • You’ll get answers to certain questions right away, but there are some answers you’ll have to wait for.
  • They wanted to bring a sense of wonderment to the character of Holden and have him be a man out of time. There’s an innocence about him.
  • He has these abilities, but he has to be able to control them and make decisions that could hurt himself or others.
  • They preserved Holden’s room, from the day he left to the day he woke up. He still appreciates that stuff and gets to revisit his past when he goes into the room.

Watch the video interview with EP Adam Nussdorf:

Here are a few highlights:

  • According to the EP, it’s very difficult to find an actor who can convey so much with only a look. Duffield “nailed it. Every little moment, you can see it all play out on his face and you can see it all play out in his eyes.”
  • He’s always fascinated by stories where you turn a person’s life upside down and see where they land. “What type of life do I live now?”
  • The more he thought about comas and consciousness, the more they could go into sci-fi territory.
  • There are a lot of twists and turns throughout.
  • It’s Holden’s journey, an emotional one, and they didn’t want to short-change the emotion and internal hardships he has to go through just to service plot.
  • They wanted to avoid making this a show about powers. When it becomes about powers, you lose sight of Holden as a person. They wanted to keep it about him and who he is and what he’s going through at the moment, complicated by those powers.
  • Nussdorf can’t say there’s a Big Bad because they like to play in gray areas. “We do have opposing forces, but we try to each give them a legitimate point of view and just keep them as that — opposing forces.”
  • His emotions are tied to his powers.

Watch the video interview with EP David Eick:

Here are a few highlights:

  • When he first read the script, he thought it was too ambitious and couldn’t be done on TV. However, when he saw the pilot, he thought it was brilliant.
  • Eick praised the cast and said it’s almost impossible to find great young actors like they have. He called Duffield a star and doesn’t remember having a reaction like this to a young person this early in their career.
  • The concept took a bit of a turn as they continued the series. They didn’t want it to be Escape to Witch Mountain (kids with powers and an evil government) because everyone’s seen that.
  • The show is about a young man on a journey, and part of it will terrify him. When it does, it’s going to be traumatic, not cathartic. It does occupy the sweet, nostalgic space, but the challenges he faces are so real.
  • The pilot moves at a faster pace than the series does. There is a serialized component with a slower burn, so they can get deeper into some of the mythology and emotion.

Watch the video interview with EP Tim Kring:

Here are a few highlights:

  • He loves how broad the show’s tone is. There’s a family drama, a mystery, conspiracy, action and even some humor.
  • It’s a show that tries to answer what is arguably the biggest question all of us have in life: “What is beyond this existence? If this existence is not all there is, then what is there? What is beyond it?”
  • It’s important to connect to the characters. There’s a quality of relatability to what Holden is going through. The 12 years he was in a coma are the most key portions of someone’s life: discover who they are as a person, how they navigate relationships, their interests in other people, etc. These are things he should have discovered years ago that he now has to figure out.

Beyond airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Freeform.

(Image courtesy of Freeform; Videos: Meredith Jacobs)


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